Council of Elders Activities Talking Leaf Newsletter
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The first Tonkawa meeting of the new year, noon, second Sunday 2003, is held in the newly dedicated Chester Hunt Community Center. This meeting place is located at the Many Nations In Recovery Organization: 3928 Illinois St.
Tonkawa President Esther Abrahano is the first to arrive at the Community center. Exec. Secretary Roy Cook is pokey to arrive with the keys to the room and the facilities. Getting the coffee going and setting up the tables and chairs are part of this 'shakedown' and feeling out of the new space and resources.
First anxiousness regarding the possibility that no one could find the place were quickly put aside as the Tonkawa members entered with smiles and ohs and ahhs. Wonderful aromas and delightful surprises are lining up in the serving counter. More Tonkawa members keep arriving and are starting to form groups of conversations bringing each other up to date following the holidays and looking forward to having a regular place to meet. Just as the coffee is ready for testing and the bare tables were covered with colorful covers, Jane Dumas arrives. She starts right in greeting many friends and meeting new visitors. It is nice to see Don and Jean Vingualt joining in with the Tonkawa activity. Yvon and Marga Troha were warmly greeted with hugs and good wishes. Paul and Helen Razo were accompanied by two of their many grandchildren. Children, adults, women, men, Elders. Traditional tribal culture will always strive toward a proper balance in most activities. Our traditional ways are most important to these wisdom keepers, the Tonkawa Council of Elders.

Soon, The Officers: President, Esther Abrahano, Vice President, Jane Dumas, Treasurer, Vickie Gambala, Secretary, Helen Razo are all present. The Tonkawa meeting is called to order by President Esther Abrahano and she provides the blessing in her Choctow language. A sign up sheet is circulating as announcements and acknowledgments are made.

Jane Dumas is called upon to share her experience and history of Tonkawa. Tonkaweya: They all stay together. She said, "I will be great if things could be active again. We have lost many active Indian members recently, we need to see what we can do to help our Indian seniors. I am sad today because a friend of the Indian people is no longer with us. Dr. Forence Shipek, the author of Autobiography of Delfina Cuero, was found in her home, she had fallen and was found by the bed, by her son, Carl. She didn't recover and died in the hospital. We used to talk often and I asked my daughter, Dalene Adams, to call her because I was concerned over recent setbacks in her condition. We will miss her." Jane also shared, "The Tonkawa year begins in April and I know Vickie is here to collect the annual dues. Nellie Ruiz is our greeter and has always called the Tonkawa members to let us know about the meeting and activities. We are a not for profit organization and I remember that in 1981 the downtown Indian Clinic was re-opened under the Tonkawa 501c3 paperwork." All the Tonkawa officers are introduced and just as the members are getting itchy Esther said. "It is time to Eat!"

The Tonkawa Elders meetings are focused, this is one of the great potluck meetings to attend. They know what is good and they like to share their favorites in good company. Baked Ham, Fried Chicken, Chili Beans, Rice, Sardines, Salads, Ambrosia, Cookies and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, soft drinks and coffee were all good. Wonderful socializing and laughter swirled from table to table.

Many were moving around for their second cup of coffee and other goodies when Esther once again brought focus to the meeting by announcing a seminar later that afternoon at the Methodist Church. All were invited to attend. Veronica McCune reinforced this viewpoint and that we need to support Esther and her Church activities.

There is discussion on a proposed total community Easter egg hunt in cooperation with the office of State representative Bob Filner. Helen Razo agreed to accept a little help with the secretary duties and the membership supported assignment of the executive secretary duties to Roy Cook. He with Steve Gomez will continue to pursue resources in support of the goals and mission of the Tonkawa Council of Elders. Rose Davis, publisher of INDIAN VOICES, is taking many pictures during the meeting and will be running a story on the Tonkawa Gathering. Mary Jenkins is encouraged by Rose Davis to put together a story from her point of view and Helen Halling is real pleased to see the group get together again.
Discussion continued on the hi points and hi jinks of past Tonkawa activities. Vickie Gambala recalled the many trips the group had taken together. Everyone enjoyed these humerous accounts.
This is the way the meeting kept going, laughter and lessons shared from the Elders life experiences, good times. The traditional gift exchange is carried over for next months meeting along with the group birthday party for eveyone with a birthday that month. Good traditions, good times. The meeting is ajorned at 2:30 pm.
I am humbled and grateful to enjoy and learn from our wisdom keepers in the Tonkawa Council of Elders. Now that I qualify for regular membership, 55 years and over, along with Native American heritage of a recognized tribe or tribes, I am looking forward to giving back, in a respectful manner, some of my organzational and promotion experience to our Native American community.
Maybe we will see you, bring a friend or two: associate memberships are open to everyone any age or inclination, at the next meeting of the Tonkawa, noon - second Sunday of the month at the Chet Hunt community center - 3928 Illinois St.

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